Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve spoken up here. But between the craziness with the shutdown and overtime at my day job, I’ve been squeezed for time to say the least.
When we were last here, I was in the midst of unwinding how the Waymakers used out-and-out brainwashing in their attempts to turn me into one of them. Back in 1997, while I was still trying to get my head around how the Waymakers bent my brain, one of my Ex-Tian compatriots sparked a discussion about Robert Lifton’s book about mind control techniques, “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.” Lifton listed eight signs that brainwashing–or “thought reform,” as he called it–was being used to control people. Check them out at the resource page for REVEAL, a group of former members of the Boston Movement. In sum, they are:
- Milieu control: the control of the environment and information within that environment
- Mystical manipulation: Experiences and emotions are made to appear spontaneous when they have actually been orchestrated
- The demand for purity: The world is divided between the “pure” and “impure,” with everything outside the group seen as “impure.” Members must change to conform to the norm and remain pure.
- Confession: Sins and faults are confessed publicly, and used to exploit members.
- The sacred science: The group’s doctrine is considered the ultimate truth, and no truth can be found outside of it.
- Loading the language: Using words or phrases in a way that outsiders don’t understand, in order to conform thoughts to the group’s way of thinking.
- Doctrine over person: All personal experiences are reinterpreted in light of the group’s ideology, with all contrary experiences interpreted so they can be fixed around the ideology.
- Dispensing of existence: All outsiders are seen as unenlightened and must be converted or rejected by the members.
Several of the members recalled how their hyperfundie churches often used some of these same tactics. When I looked back, I was stunned to find myself checking items off the list. It reminded me that I had dodged a dumdum bullet.
I thought I could outline how the Waymakers played this game in one post, but it became readily apparent that one post wouldn’t nearly be enough–or readable. In Part 1, I talked about how they used milieu control and mystical manipulation as part of their mind-bending. In Part 2, I discussed how they combined the demand for purity with confession as part of that effort.
Here, I want to talk about Waymaker’s sacred science.
The sacred science
Waymaker grafted a lot of lunacy onto a charismatic/Pentecostal base. Like most charismatics, they were very much into the gifts of the Spirit and praise and worship. The impression that I got, though, was that they seemed to think anything less than being hyped up was lukewarm. Telling us when to raise our hands, ordering us to cheer after every song, the lot.
I shouldn’t have been surprised in hindsight. After all, KPIC’s statement of faith at the term considered the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be among the “essentials of the historic Christian faith.” I’ve since found out that, on paper, this is way, way, way outside mainstream charismatic thinking. Charismatics believe in the gifts of the Spirit, but also believe that having a relationship with the giver–God–takes precedence.
Sadly, though, I’ve found out over the years that this imbalance is actually SOP for many hypercharismatics. They think that non-charismatic churches are “dead churches.” For instance, Rachel in “Jesus Camp” harrumphed that non-charismatic churches aren’t really “churches that God likes to go to.”
However, Waymaker seemed to go way beyond even that imbalance. I saw that in spades with their willingness to condone some of the most despicable tactics in the name of getting people to join up. As we’ve already seen, the Waymakers hid a lot about who they really were, knowing that they wouldn’t have lasted six minutes in Chapel Hill had more people known their true nature.
It could initially have been chalked up to sincerely believing they were doing good–not unlike how Palpatine turned Anakin to the dark side by convincing him that the Sith were good and the Jedi were evil. For instance, when I was coming back from work as an intramural ref and saw one of my former “sisters” handing out flyers for that night’s Waymaker meeting. I told her that this was bad news, and she replied, “How can anything be bad about doing God’s work?”
But they no longer had that excuse once I told them how Pastor Ron had hidden his Maranatha past. Incredibly, they were still willing to do his bidding. The only explanation I can think of that makes any kind of sense is that they wanted to be part of what God was doing in the Triangle–and as long as God was moving, nothing else mattered.
How else do you explain how they were willing to condone Christina Roland being hectored like a pesky mosquito? I still remember how sickened I felt at the thought that I was supposed to be happy for her to have been saved–knowing she’d been essentially hounded into being saved.
Even now, more than two decades later, it still blows my mind–especially since I didn’t just tell them that I thought something was wrong. I told them that there was something wrong, gave them proof Pastor Ron was lying about his past. Was it so important to get people saved that they were willing to condone that? Apparently so.
That’s a big reason why when Trump rose up and the religious right stayed all-in for him despite his outrages, I felt like I was in a time warp. The religious right only seems to care about rolling back abortion and marriage equality and getting conservatives on our courts–and Trump’s debauched and potentially treasonous behavior be hanged. Likewise, the Waymakers were hung up solely on getting people roped in–no matter how many people got hurt. If your cause is so important that you have to throw basic decency out the window, something is bad wrong.